Pictured: Mary Marvin participating is a birthday drive-by for Dee Sorensen, who turned 95 on April 30th
By Mary Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville
May 6, 2020: Westchester County is now starting month two in the process of counting all residents for the 2020 national census.
Mandated by our government since 1790, counting people has been the norm for thousands of years. In the first millennium, Chinese census takers were tasked to count everyone down to the level of babies who had exhibited teeth. God even commanded Moses in the Book of Numbers to count all those in the vicinity. In the Gospel of Luke, the Roman emperor, Cesar Augustus, decreed that citizens must be counted for taxation purposes. Many other ancient rulers required censuses to measure and gather their strength to muster armies and levy taxes.
With great political acumen, Benjamin Franklin wanted to count residents of Britain’s North American colonies. He calculated the population at approximately 1 million, roughly the size of Scotland at the time, which had 45 members in the House of Commons and 16 peers in the House of Lords, while American “citizens” had no representation.
The first modern census was actually conducted in Iceland in 1709, and it quite ground breakingly counted everyone, not just men of fighting age or eligible taxpayers.
The first census in the United States was constitutionally mandated in 1790 with the requirement that it be conducted henceforth every ten years. It is reported that the 1790’s census takers visited every home in the United States.
We are not unique as more than 150 countries will undertake a census in 2020 as a norm. It is estimated by 1964, 95% of the worlds‘ population was counted through various international systems.
Many in the world of technology believe Google and Facebook already know more about the population of the United States than the US Census Bureau, but be that as it may, the census is the instrument that will financially aid the village for a full decade.
The cost of the 2020 Census is $6.3 billion, but the results will generate $880 billion in federal aid. Non-answering translates into the loss of approximately $2,500 per year per person to every community.
To translate locally, if 400 of our approximately 6,500 residents do not respond, the village will lose a total of $1 million in funding each year for the next ten years, hence why accurate numbers are critical to financial health. Not to be lost in the financial grant process is the fact that numbers are used most critically to determine representation in Congress. Unless New Yorkers respond in numbers near 100% of the actual population, we stand to lose two more representatives to other states – most probably Florida, South Carolina, or Texas.
What seems to be perhaps intrusive questions as to the familial and generational queries asked, they are actually proffered to be the basis for specific federal programs such as HeadStart, senior services, nutrition interventions, housing, and educational initiatives.
By identifying relationships in households, the government is then able to recognize important trends in society. For example, if seniors or adult children are living with their children or parents in large numbers, social programs can be adjusted accordingly.
The census numbers also serve as a valuable tool for the business community. The numbers and trends help startups and expanding businesses in particular because they rely on accurate census data to determine where their target customers may be found as well as gain a sense of where the demographics tell them a population is growing and thus time for a new business to relocate.
As a guide, the census forms/takers will never ask for Social Security numbers, money donations on behalf of any organization, credit card numbers, or your citizenship.
Contrary to our usual citizenship involvement, Bronxville is not even in the top ten of resident responses in Westchester County. Croton and Hastings lead the county with responses from over 70% of population. We have a 64% response rate and trail communities, including Scarsdale, Ardsley, and Briarcliff.
As you can see, the financial implications could be enormous. To put in context, our entire county has a response rate today of 55.3%, which slightly surpasses the national rate of 54.6% and sadly above our own state response rate of 48.8%.
But it is not too late to respond. It doesn’t matter if you have lost your 12-digit number transmitted by mail or internet, you can simply call 844-330-2022. Lines are open from 7 AM to 2 AM daily, and a callback option is available. To start the process on the computer, go to my2020census.gov.
The process is quite straightforward and streamlined.
Your response is of immense importance to the village on so many levels, so don’t hesitate to call Stephen Shallo in Village Hall for assistance at 779-4023 or email
. We are here to help, and we so need you.
Photo by A. Warner
Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.